Marriott no longer blocking personal wifi. Great?

Marriott announced last week that they will not block personal Wi-Fi networks in the future after being caught doing so and a fine of 1-20-15-3$600k from the FCC.  In their initial FCC petition, Marriott said their primary concern was about the potential of cyberattacks and their network slowing down. While this petition asked the FCC to allow hotel properties the ability to block personal Wi-Fi networks, after pressure from consumers, and from businesses such as Google and Microsoft, they look to be backing down.  Marriott’s press release can be seen here.

On the one hand their concerns about rogue wireless hotspots seem to have a tiny amount of validity to them, but on the other hand I have a hard time believing that this was only being done to protect their customers.  I mean, blocking signals, then charging up to $1000 per wireless access point for connectivity? What the heck!  If Marriott’s petition to the FCC had come out before they were busted this story might be leaning slightly more in their favor, but now it just sounds like they got caught stealing and are trying to justify their thievery.

(When looking into all this I noticed that as of January 15th if you are a Marriott Rewards member you’ll receive free standard in-room Wifi as long as you book directly through Marriott’s booking channels (great timing for this promo).  Keywords though on this promo is ‘in-room’ Wifi.  The conference center where they blocked personal Wifi and jacked up the rates that resulted in an FCC fine did not get included in this promotion.) In Marriott’s press release last week they said ‘Marriott International listens to its customers’. They may say they’re listening now, but it’s clear they weren’t listening when J.D. Powers released a hotel guest survey listing internet connectivity and price as one of the biggest complaints just months before Marriott took over management of the property that was blocking personal Wifi signals.

In the end this is just more disappointing than anything else.  Hopefully the FCC fine and negative publicity about this incident will deter Marriott from acting irrationally in the future.  They have a lot of work to do to regain the trust and loyalty of frequent business travelers, but backing down from their FCC petition is a small step in the right direction.   Hopefully there are more positive steps to follow.

Readers, what are your thoughts on Marriott’s announcement?  

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  1. great, I tried to get a connection at Caesars and had a problem even near a window on the 23rd floor. Make me think

  2. I just spent 2 days at the Fairmont in Dallas. Internet was $15/day in the room and the service was terrible – couldn’t even get mail on my iPad. Unconscionable!

    But for conferences, I’m not so sure what the rules should be. I would think that when the venue is negotiating with the conference host, internet access would be part of the negotiation (just like tables, chairs, food service, etc.) But what do I know…

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